Overview of the Family Services Role in Head Start Programs

Managers and Supervisors Supporting Family Services Staff

If you are a Head Start program leader who works with family services professionals, onboarding new family services staff is part of your role. With so many resources available to share, it can be challenging to choose. This overview eliminates the guesswork for you. It offers introductory guidance about all aspects of family services work through content organized into four sections:

  • The Foundations of Family Engagement
  • Building Relationships and Partnerships with Families
  • On-the-Job Roles and Responsibilities
  • Community Partnerships and Engagement

Each section contains reflection questions to help staff apply the information, review key takeaways, and write action steps. Staff will also find links to additional research-based resources.

How to Use With Staff

You can use this resource to orient new family services staff, guide staff interactions with families, or develop activities to support your staff’s professional development. Below are several examples of how to use the overview with your team.

Staff Orientation

Use the overview as an orientation tool to support new family services professionals as they begin their work in Head Start programs.

  • Consider sharing it with new staff and recommend that they use it as a guide during their first few months of employment.
  • Explore the links to additional resources in each section to support staff’s training and onboarding process.

Reflective Supervision 

As a manager, ongoing reflective supervision sessions with each family services staff member are recommended to support their orientation and onboarding process and continued professional growth. Learn more about reflective supervision. Use the list of self-reflection questions at the end of each section of the overview in your supervision sessions.

  • Consider asking staff to bring the questions to reflective supervision sessions for discussion.
  • Create a plan with your staff to discuss one to two reflection questions at each reflective supervision session during the orientation and onboarding phase. This planning helps to set routines of reflection that can continue throughout the staff’s employment in the program.

Team or Group Meetings 

If you have several new family services staff starting around the same time or existing staff who may benefit from a refresher on the family services role, consider having a group of staff explore the overview as a scheduled cohort.

  • Organize team discussions about the content to support their learning and collaboration.
  • Bring some reflection questions to other team meetings and group discussions to engage your team in reflection, peer learning, and knowledge sharing.

Continued Support and Learning

The following online courses are available on the iPD website to support the professional development goals of your family services staff and home visitors:

Please continue to check the iPD website and the Course Catalog for updated online course offerings.